And do not forget that nearly all of the countless 20th-century innovations and industries that made the rest of the developed world so efficient and comfortable came from America, and it wasn’t a coincidence. As long as Europe had America taking risks, investing ambitiously, and yes, being “inequal,” it had the luxury of benefiting from the results without making the same sacrifices. Who will be America’s America?
Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: United States
I remember the good old days when we only had to worry about small banks going out of business. Then big banks started to go out of business, then non-bank financial institutions, and now small countries.
The problem with having a lot of debt is that, with some exceptions (“too big to fail”), bad things happen when your investors get nervous.
My memory is not photographic as some of the legends about me say, but I am sure I would remember if the works of Adam Smith included the phrase “too big to fail.” — Garry Kasparov
What are the odds that people running companies or countries will make smart decisions about money if they don’t need to make smart decisions — if they can do just as well or better making dumb decisions and being rescued from the consequences?
According to the government debt chart below, the next countries in line for a day of reckoning are two more small countries (Ireland, Portugal) and a medium-sized country (Italy). Further down the chart are two big countries.
The United States, the biggest of the big, is not shown on the chart but is currently at 100 percent debt to GDP.
A recurring theme in world history is the United States dick-slapping Germany: World War I, World War II, “Tear down this wall!” … maybe that’s not the most appropriate metaphor for a women’s soccer match but we’ve been winners all our lives.
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Our hotel in Atami was on the eastern coast. Where we live in California, you can watch the sun set over the ocean every day if you want to, but here the sun rises over the ocean, which is a little bit different.
These photos are from the balcony of our room. If you look closely, you can see the United States in the background. It looks very small from this far away.
We started the day on a sightseeing boat at Lake Ashi:
Owakudani (lit. “Great Boiling Valley”) is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago (lit. “black egg”) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised.
Owakudani is accessible via the Hakone Ropeway. In the States, we’d call this a tramway. I swear to god when I heard “ropeway” I thought we were going to have to pull ourselves up the mountain with a rope.
Our guide is on the right:
See the large buildings at the bottom of the photo below? Look up a bit from the one on the right and you’ll see the stand where the black eggs are cooked up and sold. It’s a short hike up the mountain.
We ate some black eggs:
They also have black ice cream:
Mount Fuji (Fujisan), located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” (Sanreizan) along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku; it is a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a Historic Site, and was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22nd, 2013.
As per UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries.”
At the Mount Fuji Visitor Center, you can fold an origami Mount Fuji to commemorate your visit:
The yellow one is mine:
Shinjuku (Shinjuku-ku, “New Lodge”) is a special ward located in Tokyo Metropolis, Japan. It is a major commercial and administrative centre, housing the busiest train station in the world (Shinjuku Station) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration centre for the government of Tokyo. As of 2008, the ward has an estimated population of 312,418 and a population density of 17,140 people per km2. The total area is 18.23 km2.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is 48 stories tall, and splits into two sections at the 33rd floor.
The 45th floor of each tower has a panoramic observation deck. It was late afternoon when we got up there.
Teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds, while U.S. students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to test results released Tuesday.
Why am I not shocked by that?
Because Americans on the whole are dumb and lazy. We have lots of dumb, lazy parents raising dumb, lazy kids. The average American kid doesn’t compare well academically to the average kid in an Asian country where academics and hard work are valued, or to the average kid from a small, homogenous European country where it’s easier to get everyone pulling in the same educational direction.
The U.S. is a big, diverse country and the average academic results are pulled down by a lot of dummkopfs.
But still, the smartest people in the world are Americans. Our smartest people are smarter than the smartest people in other lands.
You don’t think so? I’m looking at the list of winners of the 2013 Nobel Prizes . . . out of 11 recipients (I’m omitting the winners of the literature and peace prizes because those aren’t academic awards), eight are from the U.S. The other three are from Belgium, the UK and France, and the Frenchman is affiliated with Harvard University.
No one in Asian countries is winning any Nobel Prizes. Q.E.D.
When I heard the current president say, “You didn’t build that,” I was first insulted, then I was angered, and then I was saddened that anyone in our country, much less the president of the United States, believes that roads create business success and not the other way around.
Anyone who is so fundamentally misunderstanding of American greatness is uniquely unqualified to lead this great nation.
In Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Tang family owns The Great American Doughnut Shop. Their family fled war-torn Cambodia to come to this country. My kids and I love doughnuts, so we go there frequently. The Tangs work long hours. Mrs. Tang told us they work through the night to make the doughnuts. The Tang family have become valedictorians and National Merit Scholars. The Tangs from Cambodia are an American success story, so Mr. President, don’t go telling the Tang family that they didn’t build that.
When you say they don’t build it, you insult each and every American who ever got up at the crack of dawn. You insult any American who ever put on overalls or a suit. You insult any American who ever studied late into the night to become a doctor or a lawyer. You insult the dishwasher, the cook, the waitress. You insult anyone who has ever dragged themselves out of bed to try — to strive for something better for themselves and their children.
To overcome the current crisis, we must appreciate and applaud American success. We must step forward, unabashedly and proclaim, you did build that. You earned that. You worked hard. You studied. You labored. You did build that.
And you deserve America’s undying gratitude, for you, the individual, are the engine of America’s greatness.
You see, the essence of America, what really unites us, is not nationality or ethnicity or religion. It is an idea. And what an idea it is. That you can come from humble circumstances and you can do great things, that it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going.
My fellow Americans, ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement. We have never believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have never been jealous of one another and never envious of each others’ successes.
And on a personal note, a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham. The segregated city of the south where her parents cannot take her to a movie theater or to restaurants, but they have convinced her that even if she cannot have a hamburger at Woolworths, she can be the president of the United States if she wanted to be, and she becomes the secretary of state.
These are all from today’s headlines:
- Ireland told: Take EU bailout or trigger crisis – The Guardian
- Euro under siege as now Portugal hits panic button – Montreal Gazette
- Greek deficit much bigger than estimate – The Guardian
Thirty years ago, we had the savings and loan crisis. Those were the good old days, when investors were only nervous about small banks.
Investors have since become nervous about big banks, then non-bank financial institutions, and now small countries — Greece, Portugal, Ireland . . .
That’s the problem with debt — bad things happen when your investors get nervous.
What’s next? Medium-sized countries, obviously — Italy, Britain — and eventually the biggest of the big: the United States.
Norway tops U.N. quality-of-life list; U.S. is 13th, while Niger finishes last
Well, here we go again . . .
As I’ve said before, my brother and his family used to live in Norway. He says when the sun is shining, it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
The other 335 days of the year, it’s not so great . . .